In 2018, business leaders understand that training is key to a healthy, thriving business. That’s why nearly $165 billion was spent on training and development by U.S. companies in 2013 alone.¹
Employee training and skills development is a top priority in the corporate world because it improves employee retention, satisfaction, and productivity.
Every company deserves to receive an excellent ROI for training. Business leaders can make training programs more fruitful by adding informal learning into employee training using LMS software.
What Is Informal Learning?
Informal learning is simply learning that occurs outside of a classroom. It accounts for 80 percent of all learning.² In the workplace, informal training often happens “on accident” when new hires naturally pick up skills and information around the office. Formal training is structured and scheduled, but offers no guarantee of long-term knowledge retention.
“In comparison to formal training modules that typically present large quantities of information in a short time, informal learning allows for continuous, natural learning to occur—resulting in higher levels of knowledge retention,” stated 5 Reasons Why You Need Informal Training.²
Informal learning should be a vital aspect of employee training not only because it promotes knowledge retention, but also because it:
- Allows learners to choose training content that best suits their needs and to follow learning paths at their own pace.³
- Can happen any time and any place, not just in a classroom.
- Is often enjoyable because it is more casual and low-pressure than formal learning.
- Promotes autonomy, which is attractive to learners as it encourages ownership of one’s learning experience.
“Formal learning is anything that has been pre-arranged and prescribed as part of the training programme. Informal learning is everything else that happens outside of that framework.” -- Growth Engineering.4
How an LMS Helps Companies Encourage Informal Learning
Informal learning is unstructured at its core, happening outside of a schedule.5 This type of learning takes place during individual work time as well as interactions with others, which is why it can also be referred to as social learning. LMS software enables companies to include informal learning in their formal training programs by giving it some structure.
There is a place for both types of learning in the workplace, but most of what we learn is absorbed informally through social situations. That’s why some formal employee training programs don’t get results -- they don’t prioritize informal learning. Businesses may see increased results from their L&D programs when informal learning becomes a sizable part of them.
2 Ways a Learning Management System Promotes Informal Learning in Employee Training
LMS software promotes informal learning in the context of employee training in multiple ways. Here are two:
LMS software fosters online communities -- Online communities in the workplace are great facilitators of informal learning. Within an online community, workplace relationships are formed and innovation is sparked. Administrators often create these communities to correlate with specific, highly focused learning paths around any topic or course. These communities enable learners to start an open dialogue with their fellow users at any point.
LMS software promotes knowledge sharing -- Knowledge sharing is an aspect of informal learning that increases collaboration and creates knowledge capital. Through Q&A threads and advanced search options that allow learners to quickly find answers to their questions (as well as training materials such as a specific video), LMS software encourages knowledge sharing. Additionally, business leaders can use LMS software to build a recognition system that rewards employees who regularly share their knowledge by making them a reference for coworkers.
Conveniently, the same LMS software that allows social learning tools and content to be integrated into employee training programs also enables administrators to deliver and track onboarding carefully, intentionally and formally.
Related Reading: Encourage Informal Learning with an LMS
Increase the Effectiveness of Employee Training Through Informal Learning
Fast-growing companies use both formal and informal learning strategies. Each of these modes of learning is valuable, but informal learning may get overlooked at times due to its unstructured nature. Placing an equal emphasis on informal learning through the use of a social learning management system increases the quality of training in the workplace.
Association for Talent Development. $164.2 billion spent on training and development. https://www.td.org/insights/1642-billion-spent-on-training-and-development-by-us-companies.
It Web. Eighty percent of learning is informal. https://www.itweb.co.za/content/VKA3WwqdwQXMrydZ.
eLearning Industry. 8 Benefits of Informal Learning in the Workplace. https://elearningindustry.com/informal-learning-in-the-workplace-8-benefits.
Better Buys. 5 reasons why you need informal training. https://www.betterbuys.com/lms/why-you-need-informal-training/.
Growth Engineering. How to promote informal learning. http://www.growthengineering.co.uk/sharing-knowledge-what-does-your-lms-do-to-promote-informal-learning/.